Beth taking no-plastic living mainstream

Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish made a video letter to Oprah to appeal to her work to inform us all about living more mindfully - without plastic. I have been reading Beth's blog since its inception and find her full disclosure and boundless energy inspiring. She has helped me rid myself of most plastic. I even mailed Beth a Britta filter last year. I am personally mostly down to bread bags, some cellophane wrappers from cheese and the occasional yogurt plastic cup. Gradually in the last 2 years I've have been getting rid of existing plastic packaging from when I started. I made a trash dummy last year to hold my plastic waste. Maybe I should do that again using burlap or clear plastic?

Confession, I have a bunch of plastic food containers and water containers. In my imagination I have changed all of these to glass or stainless steel. What is most important in my priorities is what comes into my home now. Aside from how I deal with disposing of my household plastic from the past is no longer an issue, damage is done.

I hope Oprah views this video and gives Beth some exposure to that gigantic audience.

Real Appeal - Uniform Project

I don't think I need mention how I view the fashion industry. I think the image speaks clearly my contempt for the money spent annually on ever changing styles versus essential needs for ourselves and others.

Last year I made up my mind and since the first of this year I have been wearing only grey or brown clothing almost without exception. The colors are neutral and I have a few work versions and more orderly versions I can wear without needing to purchase a thing. It is a kind of transition to what I hope to achieve by next year - a katecontinued signature uniform that I won't have to think about or change for the rest of my life. I have been collecting images, shapes, patterns and ideas for about six years (if not my whole life). Now I need to imagine the fatter versions. Anyway, I was reminded of this by a blog found via Shakesville and Gendergogles called Brown Dress. The woman, a dancer, made a decision to wear a brown dress (she had made to fit her body) for one whole year, 356 days. She said,

So, here’s the deal - I made this dress and I wore it every day for a year. I made one small, personal attempt to confront consumerism by refusing to change my dress for 365 days.

This really appeals to me on the conceptual art level and for practical terms. I think I was the only little kid who wanted to go to the Catholic parochial school because they wore uniforms. I really don't want to waste a moment's thought on it.

Let me share a couple of her answers to questions that jumped out at me - because the answers speak to me:
Was this a feminist thing? Probably. Also an art thing. Also a let's stop wasting time and money thing. But on a feminist note, let's stop agreeing that the best way for women (in particular) to "express themselves" is by purchasing new wardrobe items and putting together daily outfits.

What was the best part? The conversations and comments and stories from the everybody -- see the comments page for some of them! Secondly, I miss the strange, mundane and yet completely revolutionary moment every morning when I reached for the dress and put it on . . . again. The mix of stubborn determination, excitement of what the day would bring, physical familiarity as the dress settled and buttoned over my ribs. As I write this I haven't seen the dress for almost two weeks, and I miss that daily moment of renewed commitment.

Image: Inspire Me Now

A Wonder of Nature

When my son and I walked on the beach Thursday, we watched surfers and marveled. It was almost as though I could empathetically feel the surge of the wave beneath my tensed muscles of my legs. I tried to imagine an analagous sensation in my real life. The closest I could come - in honesty - was creating an AutoCAD plan or a newsletter using a mouse. My mind is able to direct my fingers to move a mouse for a really precise outcome. I will not put down this accomplishment (and the remarkable inventions at my fingertips), but it isn't surfing. I am awed (and if you know me you know I hate the unwarranted overuse of the word awesome) by the remarkable control a human can have with the physical body's interplay with objects and the world around him or her. The following is all kinds of miraculous dexterity, strength, precision, control and imagination. It is totally foreign to me and completely captivating.

Thanks to Blog of Note I found this while checking out Bike Snob NYC The blurb on the video says the following:

Filmed over the period of a few months in and around Edinburgh by Dave Sowerby, this video of Inspired Bicycles team rider Danny MacAskill features probably the best collection of street/street trials riding ever seen. There's some huge riding, but also some of the most technically difficult and imaginative lines you will ever see. Without a doubt, this video pushes the envelope of what is perceived as possible on a trials bike.

Credit to Band of Horses for their epic song 'The Funeral.' You can find out more about the band and their music at or you can buy the featured song from itunes here:

And, I am also not musical or inclined to send people to purchase music, yet this was an inspired music selection for the video. What a delicious way to start my Friday.

Update: This lasted moments, when I checked out the next Blog of Note choice and felt some deep anguish.*sigh* It's hard to reconcile the abrupt shift - its like the weather this week.

From the brilliant Naomi Klein

Hopebroken and Hopesick: A Lexicon of Disappointment

by Naomi Klein

All is not well in Obamafanland. It's not clear exactly what accounts for the change of mood. Maybe it was the rancid smell emanating from Treasury's latest bank bailout. Or the news that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, earned millions from the very Wall Street banks and hedge funds he is protecting from reregulation now. Or perhaps it began earlier, with Obama's silence during Israel's Gaza attack.

Whatever the last straw, a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard.

This is a good thing. If the superfan culture that brought Obama to power is going to transform itself into an independent political movement, one fierce enough to produce programs capable of meeting the current crises, we are all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding.

The first stage, however, is to understand fully the awkward in-between space in which many US progressive movements find themselves. To do that, we need a new language, one specific to the Obama moment. Here is a start.

Hopeover. Like a hangover, a hopeover comes from having overindulged in something that felt good at the time but wasn't really all that healthy, leading to feelings of remorse, even shame. It's the political equivalent of the crash after a sugar high. Sample sentence: "When I listened to Obama's economic speech my heart soared. But then, when I tried to tell a friend about his plans for the millions of layoffs and foreclosures, I found myself saying nothing at all. I've got a serious hopeover."

Hoper coaster. Like a roller coaster, the hoper coaster describes the intense emotional peaks and valleys of the Obama era, the veering between joy at having a president who supports safe-sex education and despondency that single-payer healthcare is off the table at the very moment when it could actually become a reality. Sample sentence: "I was so psyched when Obama said he is closing Guantánamo. But now they are fighting like mad to make sure the prisoners in Bagram have no legal rights at all. Stop this hoper coaster-I want to get off!"

Hopesick. Like the homesick, hopesick individuals are intensely nostalgic. They miss the rush of optimism from the campaign trail and are forever trying to recapture that warm, hopey feeling-usually by exaggerating the significance of relatively minor acts of Obama decency. Sample sentences: "I was feeling really hopesick about the escalation in Afghanistan, but then I watched a YouTube video of Michelle in her organic garden and it felt like inauguration day all over again. A few hours later, when I heard that the Obama administration was boycotting a major UN racism conference, the hopesickness came back hard. So I watched slideshows of Michelle wearing clothes made by ethnically diverse independent fashion designers, and that sort of helped."

Hope fiend. With hope receding, the hope fiend, like the dope fiend, goes into serious withdrawal, willing to do anything to chase the buzz. (Closely related to hopesickness but more severe, usually affecting middle-aged males.) Sample sentence: "Joe told me he actually believes Obama deliberately brought in Summers so that he would blow the bailout, and then Obama would have the excuse he needs to do what he really wants: nationalize the banks and turn them into credit unions. What a hope fiend!"

Hopebreak. Like the heartbroken lover, the hopebroken Obama-ite is not mad but terribly sad. She projected messianic powers on to Obama and is now inconsolable in her disappointment. Sample sentence: "I really believed Obama would finally force us to confront the legacy of slavery in this country and start a serious national conversation about race. But now whenever he seems to mention race, he's using twisted legal arguments to keep us from even confronting the crimes of the Bush years. Every time I hear him say ‘move forward,' I'm hopebroken all over again."

Hopelash. Like a backlash, hopelash is a 180-degree reversal of everything Obama-related. Sufferers were once Obama's most passionate evangelists. Now they are his angriest critics. Sample sentence: "At least with Bush everyone knew he was an asshole. Now we've got the same wars, the same lawless prisons, the same Washington corruption, but everyone is cheering like Stepford wives. It's time for a full-on hopelash."

In trying to name these various hope-related ailments, I found myself wondering what the late Studs Terkel would have said about our collective hopeover. He surely would have urged us not to give in to despair. I reached for one of his last books, Hope Dies Last. I didn't have to read long. The book opens with the words: "Hope has never trickled down. It has always sprung up."

And that pretty much says it all. Hope was a fine slogan when rooting for a long-shot presidential candidate. But as a posture toward the president of the most powerful nation on earth, it is dangerously deferential. The task as we move forward (as Obama likes to say) is not to abandon hope but to find more appropriate homes for it-in the factories, neighborhoods and schools where tactics like sit-ins, squats and occupations are seeing a resurgence.

Political scientist Sam Gindin wrote recently that the labor movement can do more than protect the status quo. It can demand, for instance, that shuttered auto plants be converted into green-future factories, capable of producing mass-transit vehicles and technology for a renewable energy system. "Being realistic means taking hope out of speeches," he wrote, "and putting it in the hands of workers."

Which brings me to the final entry in the lexicon.

Hoperoots. Sample sentence: "It's time to stop waiting for hope to be handed down, and start pushing it up, from the hoperoots."
© 2009 The Nation

More entertaining bits . . .

Thanks to Melissa McEwan at Shakesville for such a moving experience. Yet again the shallowness of culture shows the monstrous error of prejudice. Go here for the better version (unembeddable).

And in a similar vein. Enjoy.

2008 Quote of the Year

While watching the TED talk recommended by Ecogeek in comments I was reminded of the following gem:

"Imagine this design assignment: design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy as fuel and makes complex sugars as food, creates microclimates, changes colors with the seasons and self-replicates . . .
why don't we knock that down and write on it?"

William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame, at TED

or to be more crass . . .
Why don't we knock that down and wipe our butts with it.

I debated using this image as I can't find the source. I thought it was Hecate, but I can't track it down. It was so perfect I have gone ahead sans credit. Please let me know if you know more.

Why Is Science Important?

I wandered around the intertubz today and found many interesting websites, like Women in Science. I am still letting technology and the future drift through my thinking today.

Why is Science Important? from Alom Shaha on Vimeo.

  • Kat Arney, "ex-scientist" working as a Science Information Officer at Cancer Research UK
  • Robin Bell, Senior Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
  • Susan Blackmore, frelance writer and Visiting Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Blackmore is best known for her theory of memetics.
  • Rosie Coates, PhD student in chemistry at University College London.
  • Beulah Garner, natural history curator at the Horniman Museum and Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society.
  • Elaine Greaney, rocket scientist.
  • Maya Hawes: a 12-year-old student
  • Ann Lingard, novelist, former scientist, and founder of SciTalk - a site that helps writers connect with scientists.
  • Becky Parker, Head of Physics at the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys. She's a former lecturer in physics, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and has been awarded an MBE for her services to science.
  • Jennifer Rohn, cell biologist and founder of
  • Rhian Salmon, PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry. She currently works as Education and Outreach Coordinator for the International Polar Year
  • Tara Shears, particle physicist.
  • Anna Smajdor, lecturer in Ethics at the University of East Anglia. She is particularly interested in the ethical aspects of science, medicine and technology.

I found a fitting quote for this thinking from another source:

"You must live in your school. Your house and land you live on must be the school. You are always the teacher and always the student. You must do everything possible to educate yourself about life, the world, yourself, and most importantly, the connections between everything. You must have many people visit the school, and much solitude and silence to reflect on things. You must start this school now. It must be your life."- James Neill

All I can say is I am trying . . .

Why does a river look like a tree?

This video from Duke University speaks to just one aspect of a whole article at TreeHugger today. I am captivated by the Constructal Design Theory and the concept of flow. Being a fan of nature's fractals, I want to pursue this further.

Added . . . My own impression of the male approach to climate change and peak oil is skewed towards technology. This has been discussed in some probing posts by Sharon at Casauban's Book. As a rule I am not on board with technical solutions - but of late I am seeing how vital it is to incorporate the technical, engineered world into sustainability conversations. If for nothing else, to avoid overly simplistic approaches, like the "either or" arguments that I believe have destroyed national media as viable information sources.